May 19, 2022

National Libraries: The British Library Publishes 2015/16 Annual Report

The full text of the British Library Publishes 2015/16 Annual Report report is available here (47 pages; PDF) and also embedded below.

Previous editions are also available online.

A Few Highlights From the Report:

The British Library’s six purposes define everything that we do and explain the enduring ways in which the funding we receive helps deliver tangible public value. By fulfilling each of these purposes we aim to achieve our wider objective of making our intellectual heritage available to everyone, for research, inspiration and enjoyment.

1 Custodianship
We build, curate and preserve the UK’s national collection of published, written and digital content

2 Research
We support and stimulate research of all kinds

3 Business
We help businesses to innovate and grow

4 Culture
We engage everyone with memorable cultural experiences

5 Learning
We inspire young people and learners of all ages

6 International
We work with partners around the world to advance knowledge and mutual understanding


Our core purpose to collect the nation’s intellectual and cultural heritage continues to underpin everything we do, from the millions of items we make available to researchers via our Reading Rooms to the growing suite of material we share online with audiences around the world through our website.

Print collections constitute the bulk of this growth with 597,000 items added to the collection this year through legal deposit, including books, newspapers, serials, music scores, maps and atlases. Our physical collection occupies 718 linear kilometres of shelf space, 70% of which meets international archival standards. The care of this collection is itself a substantial undertaking: we preserved 33,200 items this year, through interventions such as binding, rebinding, minor repairs and boxing.

The number of digital items we receive through legal deposit continues to increase: we received 199,000 items such as e-books and e-journals this year (compared with 158,000 in 2014/15).

The third UK domain web crawl, which took place in September 2015, harvested 68 terabytes of content, estimated to comprise in excess of two billion web assets (including web pages, images, videos and documents) and more than ten million websites.


Our Reading Rooms at St Pancras and Boston Spa saw a rise in visitor numbers this year, with a combined total of 414,000 visits by Readers compared to 389,000 in 2014/15. Crucially, our users’ experience of the Reading Rooms – from Rare Books and the Newsroom to Humanities 1 and 2 and Asia and Africa – achieved its highest ever satisfaction rating, with 97% of Readers describing themselves as ‘very satisfied’ or ‘quite satisfied’ with the services and facilities, and staff service coming in for particular praise.

Online there was a similarly positive story, with the number of items consulted on the British Library website rising from 2.6 million to 3.2 million and user satisfaction with our online services climbing to 88% (from 86% and 83% in 2014/15 and 2013/14 respectively).

British Library Annual Report 2015/16 by LJ’s infoDOCKET on Scribd

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.